Infrared thermometers have been growing in popularity. They’re very fast and accurate to use, and, especially for those with small children, the fact that you don’t need to stick them under a tongue or into an ear can make them much easier to use than other digital thermometers.
It’s common, however, to worry that using an infrared thermometer may be somewhat dangerous. Usually, people are worried about one of two things: A) they’re worried about potential side effects from the use of the thermometer or B) they’re worried that the thermometer won’t give them an accurate temperature reading, which could potentially place them or their child into a medically dangerous situation.
We will briefly examine these possibilities and help you to understand whether or not an infrared thermometer is safe to use.
Potential Side Effects of Infrared Thermometer
First, let’s look at the potential side effects of using an infrared thermometer. Infrared thermometers usually project a small laser, and it’s fair to wonder if that laser might be harmful. The answer is that these lasers are completely harmless.
If the laser were powerful enough to present a danger to you, it would be strong enough to damage your eyes the instant you switched the thermometer on. This laser is no more powerful than those that are used in laser pointers, and may, in fact, be even weaker than they are. While it’s true that laser pointers can be hazardous when shined directly into the eye, that’s not how you’ll be using the thermometer.
It’s also common to worry that the thermometer might cause damage via infrared radiation. To help you understand why you don’t need to worry about that, let’s briefly go over how infrared thermometers work.
While it’s understandable that many people have concerns about using infrared thermometers, there really is no danger. Most of these concerns stem from misunderstandings about the thermometers themselves.
Since the thermometer does not generate infrared radiation, there’s no risk of if causing any harm to the user through radiation damage. Likewise, on models which have a laser, the laser exists solely for the purpose of helping to aim the thermometer, nothing more, and it’s so low powered that there’s no risk of harm.
Finally, the only times when infrared thermometers have been found to give inaccurate temperature readings have been situations in which the user did not follow the instructions properly, and therefore the inaccurate readings were the result of user error.
As long as you follow the instructions and use it properly, an infrared thermometer is perfectly safe to use and has a number of advantages over other thermometer types.